The Book Thief at the Heartland Film Festival

Thursday, November 7, 2013


The Book Thief is one of my favorite books. I've loved it since I first read it in 2007. I've pushed it on friends and family members. When I heard it was being turned into a play I took to trip to Chicago to see it performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre. Then in October I was able to attend the closing night ceremony of the Heartland Film Festival. They premiered the film version of The Book Thief and followed it with a Q&A with the director and the movie's stars. 

Director Brain Percival and actors Sophie NĂ©lisse and Geoffrey Rush answered audience questions and talked about the challenges they faced in filming. I had no idea that most of the movie was filmed in Berlin, which means many of the extras are Germans. It certainly added a layer of depth to scenes like the book burning. Percival said he looked around and saw the shame in their faces and realized how intense that scene was for them. 



There's something incredible about seeing a story you love being presented in such different mediums. Each one tells the story in a different way. A few details change, but the heart of the tale remains the same. I'm so glad I had the chance to experience The Book Thief as a play, film and book. It's a tribute to Zusak's talent as a storyteller that each of those versions are powerful in their own way. 

I hope you all get the chance to see the movie when it comes out in theaters. It really is beautifully done! 

Photos by moi. 

12 comments:

celinekiernan said...

Oh YEAY!!!! I was looking forward to the film so much ( the casting looks perfect) But was terrified it wouldn't live up! Can't wait now.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I almost can't stand the anticipation. I WILL see this movie as soon as it is available here. You know, the film version of Ender's Game wasn't perfect but I felt nothing but love in my heart while watching it all come to life before me. I am certain this one will be the same way.

bkclubcare said...

I so appreciate you not being one of those 'book is always better' people. I, too, just enjoy the interpretation and translation. Have 20 people adapt any story and you'll get 20 different viewpoints, imo. It's how well they manage that interpretation not how true they got to YOUR version or the authors. SO, yes, I am always excited about seeing the many mediums of a beloved story.

Andi said...

OK, I have to know...is Death still the narrator in the film?? The one trailer I've watched was inconclusive. ;)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

celinekiernan - I'm sure someone will be disappointed with it, someone always is, but I thought it was pretty wonderful.

Sandy - I felt the same about Ender's Game! Of course it's different from the book and they had to cut certain plot points and change how early certain characters come into the story, but it was so good!

bkclubcare - I love movies. Reading a book and seeing a movie are such different experiences. The only time I get frustrated with a movie version of a book is if they unnecessarily change a major plot point for no apparent reason.

Andi - Yes! I was worried about that too. Death is the narrator, but it's a much smaller part than it is in the book. I think they did a good job with it. I was glad it wasn't cut from the whole movie.

Suey said...

Ah, so jealous. What a wonderful experience. I'm glad you didn't give us too many details about the film itself. I want to see without any influence from anyone! :) Anyway, the thought of the Germans being the extras... wow...makes me a little weepy. My turn next week!

Trish said...

How fun and exciting! And glad to hear you endorse the movie. I always get really nervous when one of my favorite books is turned into a film but the casting is amazing and I have fingers and toes crossed. And I didn't realize it was adapted to a play! Very cool.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Suey - I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!

Trish - I get nervous too, but this one was so well done.

Jeanne said...

I'm glad to hear you think the movie is well done!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I'm sure some people will find problems with it, someone always does.

Brona Joy said...

Ohhh I'm very envious.
I've been quietly very excited about the movie ever since I heard Geoffrey Rush was in it (I think he's wonderful).
Now I can let my hopes wander as high as they like - thanks :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona Joy - I hope you love it! Rush was really so good in it (as always).